Municipal Elections in Yangon, Myanmar: A Democratic First?

Municipal Elections in Yangon, Myanmar: A Democratic First?

Myanmar’s 2015 general elections set a high standard for democratic elections in a country emerging from military rule. With a recent proposal for amendment of the municipal law currently under discussion in the Yangon Regional Parliament, Yangon will now have the opportunity to be the first city in Myanmar to hold municipal elections under universal suffrage. To support democratic municipal elections in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, DIPD is providing technical advisory services on municipal elections, and supporting dialogues among the political parties, their members of parliament, civil society organizations, and others with a stake in the municipal reforms.

On Monday, February 19, DIPD, together with its partner Democracy Reporting International, was invited by the Yangon Regional Parliament to make presentations on international standards and best practices in democratic municipal elections. DIPD built on the experience of the KV17 Danish municipal elections, to which it invited a large Myanmar delegation, and also highlighted comparative experiences from other countries that have recently transitioned to holding democratic municipal elections.

In the subsequent discussions, DIPD, DRI and the MPs engaged in an open and frank exchange on the different policy options and the potential challenges that Yangon faces as it seeks to transition to a system that makes the city government more accountable and responsive to its residents. The MPs asked questions regarding opening candidacy to all persons above 18 years of age, which responsibilities should be the core ones of the municipal council, the right to recall or remove municipal councilors, and how the Union Election Commission might be involved in the municipal elections.

“This is the first international organization’s input on YCDC new draft law meeting which is attended by many MPs. We learnt Danish democratic municipal elections and key consideration to develop democratic local election” – U Khin Maung Win, Representative of Pazundaung Township Constituency.

To support a more consultative process of municipal election reform, DIPD collaborated with its partner the CSOs Coalition for Municipal Law, to convene a dialogue on key elements for the reform of Yangon municipal election law. At this dialogue, DIPD and DRI shared best practices and international experiences in municipal elections. Political parties, CSOs, and former municipal leaders assessed the current proposals for municipal electoral reform, and voiced their opinions on what should be included in the new municipal law.

When discussing on the new YCDC draft law, multi-stakeholder’s participants leaded to discuss based on the seven basic standards: the public representative, free and fair election, transparency, justice, accountable and responsible election process, inclusiveness and practical and developing the capable council.

“All the council members should be elected also the Mayor as well be directly elected” – U Myat San from Comreg Local NGO 

More information

For more information about DIPD’s work in Myanmar, please visit the Myanmar page

Contact Myanmar Country Representative Khin Thazin Myint: ktzm@dipd.dk